Our glimpse into fiction titles scheduled for 2023: Part two

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So we kick off the second part of what to keep an eye out for in 2023, starting with July. Part One covers January to June, and you can read it here.

July’s scheduled novels start off with the sequel to Colson Whitehead’s acclaimed heist novel Harlem Shuffle that’s going to be titled Crook Manifesto; also in July we have a collection of short stories from 2022’s Booker Prize winner Shehan Karunatilaka called The Birth Lottery & Other Surprises.

In August Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series finds a new author to take over the mantle, in the shape of Karin Smirnoff. The new book is going to be called The Girl in the Eagle’s Talons. Also, in August H is for Hawk’s author Helen Macdonald is bringing out a science fiction tome about the weaponisation of nostalgia, called Prophet. And to round off August we have Nicola Upson’s Shot With Crimson; a cosy crime novel set around the filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca.

In September the fabulous Zadie Smith brings out The Fraud, a historical novel set in London and Jamaica during Victorian times. And previous Booker Prize winner Anne Enright is bringing out a novel called The Wren, featuring three generations of an Irish family. There is also a new stand alone novel from Mick Herron called The Secret Hours and, to round off September, we have a tale of thwarted love by Rose Tremain called Absolutely and Forever.

October will see the release of a feminist retelling of 1984 called Julia by author Sandra Newman. Jeanette Winterson is releasing a series of haunting short stories especially for Halloween called The Night-Side of the River and finally, in October, we have Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford, set in the speakeasies of 1920’s America.

And to round off our advanced peek into what’s coming up in the fiction world of 2023 we are going to have a very special look at what is in store fiction wise from our own fair shores.

In September we  have Becky Manawatu’s much anticipated sequel to the fabulous Auē  that’s going to be called Kataraina. There are already  a lot of very excited readers desperate to get their hands on that title.  Also, in September we have  The Bone Tree by Airana Ngarewa; a novel about two brothers losing their parents.

There is also a wonderful batch of New Aotearoa New Zealand fiction titles in the pipeline that we don’t yet have any fixed release dates for, but are due in 2023. These titles include Monty Soutar‘s historical novel called Tree of Nourishment which is set in pre-European Aotearoa in the 1700s.  Also, without a release date is the debut novel from Josie Shapiro called Everything Is Beautiful and Everything Hurts, about a woman athlete’s attempt to hit the big time. There’s also no set release dates for Sue McCauley’s novel Landed, which was shortlisted for the 2021 Michael Gifkins Prize, or for How to Get Fired by Evena Belich, but they both look fabulous.

Below we have a few previous titles from some of the authors mentioned, just to whet your appetite.

Harlem shuffle / Whitehead, Colson
“”Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…” To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably-priced furniture, making a life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home. Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The seven moons of Maali Almeida / Karunatilaka, Shehan
“Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida, war photographer, gambler and closet queen, has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. At a time when scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts who cluster around him can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to try and contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to a hidden cache of photos that will rock Sri Lanka.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The autograph man / Smith, Zadie
” Alex-Li Tandem sells autographs. A small blip in a huge worldwide network of desire, it is his business to hunt for names on paper, collect them, sell them, occasionally fake them, and all to give the people what they want: a little piece of Fame. THE AUTOGRAPH MAN is a deeply funny, existential tour around the hollow things of modernity – celebrity, cinema, and the ugly triumph of symbol over experience. Pushing against the tide of his generation, Alex-Li is on his way to finding enlightenment, otherwise known as some part of himself that cannot be signed, celebrated or sold.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Actress / Enright, Anne
“This is the story of Irish theatre legend Katherine O’Dell, as told by her daughter Norah. It tells of early stardom in Hollywood, of highs and lows on the stages of Dublin and London’s West End. Katherine’s life is a grand performance, with young Norah watching from the wings. But this romance between mother and daughter cannot survive Katherine’s past, or the world’s damage. As Norah uncovers her mother’s secrets, she acquires a few of her own. Then, fame turns to infamy when Katherine decides to commit a bizarre crime. Actress is about a daughter’s search for the truth – the dark secret in the bright star, and what drove Katherine finally mad.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Slow horses / Herron, Mick
“You don’t stop being a spook just because you’re no longer in the game. Banished to Slough House from the ranks of achievers at Regent’s Park for various crimes of drugs and drunkenness, lechery and failure, politics and betrayal, Jackson Lamb’s misfit crew of highly trained joes don’t run ops, they push paper. But not one of them joined the Intelligence Service to be a ‘slow horse’. A boy is kidnapped and held hostage. His beheading is scheduled for live broadcast on the net. And whatever the instructions of the Service, the slow horses aren’t going to just sit quiet and watch…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Colour / Tremain, Rose
” Newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from England to New Zealand, along with Joseph’s mother Lilian, in search of new beginnings and prosperity. But the harsh land near Christchurch where they settle threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in a creek bed, he hides the discovery from both his wife and mother, and becomes obsessed with the riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new goldfields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of the colour, rush to their destinies and doom.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The heavens / Newman, Sandra
“A young man, Ben, meets a young woman, Kate — and they begin to fall in love. From their first meeting, Ben knows Kate is unworldly and fanciful, so at first he isn’t that concerned when she tells him about the recurring dream she’s had since childhood. In the dream, she’s transported to the past, where she lives a second life as Emilia, the mistress of a nobleman in Elizabethan England. But for Kate, the dream becomes increasingly real and compelling until it threatens to overwhelm her life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Oranges are not the only fruit / Winterson, Jeanette
“Winner of the Whitbread Prize for best first fiction, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a coming-out novel from Winterson, the acclaimed author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. The narrator, Jeanette, cuts her teeth on the knowledge that she is one of God’s elect, but as this budding evangelical comes of age, and comes to terms with her preference for her own sex, the peculiar balance of her God-fearing household crumbles.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Light perpetual / Spufford, Francis
“Lunchtime, a Saturday, 1944: the Woolworths on Bexford High Street in southeast London has a new delivery of aluminum saucepans. A crowd gathers to see the first new metal in ages – after all, everything’s been melted down for the war effort. An instant later, the crowd is gone; incinerated. In it were five little children. Atomised. Who were they? What future did they lose? Running another reel, another version of time, Perpetual Light is the rest of the twentieth century as the five children’s destinies were extended…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Dear little corpses / Upson, Nicola
September 1st, 1939. As the mass evacuation takes place across Britain, thousands of children leave London for the countryside, but when a little girl vanishes without a trace, the reality of separation becomes more urgent and more deadly for those who love her.In the chaos and uncertainty of war, Josephine struggles with the prospect of change. As a cloud of suspicion falls across the small Suffolk village she has come to love, the conflict becomes personal, and events take a dark and sinister turn.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Auē / Manawatu, Becky
“Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to another violent home. But Arama is braver than he looks, and he has a friend and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sorrow. As long as there’s aroha to give and stories to tell and a good supply of plasters.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
: for such a time as this : a saga from the uttermost end of the earth – Aotearoa New Zealand / Soutar, Monty
” A young Māori man, compelled to learn the stories of his ancestors, returns to his family marae on the east coast of the North Island to speak to his elderly grand-uncle, the keeper of the stories. What follows is the enthralling account of the young man’s tipuna, the legendary warrior Kaitanga, after whom his marae’s whare puni has been named. Tracing the author’s own ancestral line, Kāwai: for such a time as this, reveals a picture of an indigenous Aotearoa in the mid-18th century, through to the first encounters between Māori and Europeans. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
A fancy man / McCauley, Sue
“Frank and Jess had seeped into each other. Severance would leave both of them maimed. Frank is in his forties, a hard-bitten, laconic Australian stockman, left with a baby son and a stepdaughter when his partner decides it’s time to move on. Jess is only fifteen, the daughter of the local schoolteacher, certain she wants a life beyond the tight little New Zealand rural town where she has grown up. This absorbing novel, wry, funny and moving, never sentimental, is about a love that transcends ‘accepted’ boundaries – and about others’ reactions to a relationship they fail to understand. It’s about unexpected criteria for happieness, about refusing to be bullied by convention.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Publishing is a very mysterious business: our glimpse into fiction titles scheduled for 2023

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“Publishing is a very mysterious business. It is hard to predict what kind of sale or reception a book will have, and advertising seems to do very little good.”
– Thomas Wolfe

Now that 2023 has well and truly begun, we thought what a perfect time to look into the future and survey the fiction treats that have already been scheduled and announced for 2023. Though, of course, many of the books that will feature on the ‘Best of 2023’ lists aren’t yet listed, or even scheduled. Indeed, one of the great delights and joys of the literary world are the surprise novels that seemingly come out of nowhere to become one of the shining stars of that year.

Having said that, there are so many interesting fiction titles already scheduled that we’ve had to split our overview into two parts! So, let’s start off with our first segment of what to look out for in fiction in 2023.

In January we have The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis; theAmerican Psycho author’s first book in 13 years is about a group of Los Angeles students at risk from a serial killer. Child 44 author Tom Rob Smith’s new novel, called Cold People, is a high-concept novel about an alien invasion that has led to an apocalypse, with the human race forced to shelter in Antarctica. Also, in January we have Deepti Kapoor’s latest novel about crime and corruption in India, which revolves around a wealthy family, and that novel’s title is Age of Vice.

In February Salman Rushdie’s Victory City will be published. The novel explores the rise and decline of a magical Indian city, and the other title that caught our eye in February was Owlish by Dorothy Tse – a fairy-tale set in an alternative Hong Kong which suffers under a series of oppressive regimes.

In March, Sebastian Barry returns to Ireland with a new work called Old God’s Time and finally, in March, we have Percival Everett’s Dr No, about a maths professor and an aspiring Bond villain.

April brings us Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv by Andrey Kurkov.  The author of the wonderful Death and the Penguin brings us a pitch dark but affectionate comedy set in a Ukrainian city. Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Rodham, brings us a social comedy based around the question, why do average looking men date beautiful women, but the reverse is never true? That book’s called Romantic Comedy.

In May, Hollywood super star Tom Hanks releases his first novel called The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece. Deborah Levy’s August Blue finds a woman chasing her double across Europe. And Somerset Maugham’s visit to Penang is the inspiration behind Tan Twan Eng’s The House of Doors. In May we are also excited by The Ferryman by Justin Cronin, about a paradise where all is not as it seems.

In June we have Richard Ford‘s Be Mine, the final novel in the Frank Bascombe series and Lorrie Moore’s I am Homeless if this is not my Home, a tragicomic American road trip  novel about past and present.

The first half of the year also has a fabulous crop of titles from Aotearoa to look out for too. March brings New Zealand Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton’s long-awaited Birnam Wood, about a group of New Zealand environmental activists fighting an American billionaire’s plans; we can’t wait to get our hands on that. Also in March is One of Those Mothers, the debut novel by Megan Nicol Reed. As the title suggests, the book is about a mother’s nightmare discovery and its impact on a community.

In April we have a short story collection from  Emma Hislop called Ruin and other stories about “Women and girls walking  a perilously thin line between ruin and redemption”, also due in April is  Kind  by the wickedly funny  Stephanie Johnson a sharply observed satire on liberals.

In May comes The Deck by Fiona Farrell  set in a future lockdown during a future plague. And finally due  in July in the first part of our 2023 overview we have Lioness by Emily Perkins described as a book in which “a woman begins to look at her privileged and insular world with new eyes”.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part Two coming soon and below is a selection of previous works from some of the authors mentioned, just to get you in the mood for their new works.

The rules of attraction / Ellis, Bret Easton
“A startlingly funny, kaleidoscopic novel about three students with no plans for the future – or even the present – who become entangled in a curious romantic triangle.” (Adapted from Catalogue)



Child 44 / Smith, Tom Rob
“An  amazingly assured and exciting debut, set in Soviet Russia in l953, with a wonderfully realised sense of all-pervading fear and the desperateness of a chilling race against time. How do you solve an impossible crime?” (Adapted from Catalogue)



A bad character / Kapoor, Deepti
” This is the story of Idha, a young woman who finds escape from the arranged marriage and security that her middle-class world has to offer through a chance encounter with a charismatic, dangerous young man. She is quickly exposed to the thrilling, often illicit pleasures that both the city, Delhi, and her body can hold. But as the affair continues, and her double life deepens, her lover’s increasingly unstable behaviour carries them past the point of no return, where grief, love and violence threaten to transform his madness into her own. A novel about female desire, A Bad Character shows us a Delhi we have not seen in fiction before: a city awash with violence, rage and corruption.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Midnight’s children / Rushdie, Salman
“‘ Books Saleem Sinai, the hero of Midnight’s Children, is one of the thousand and one children born in India at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the dawn of its independence from British rule–the moment, in the words of its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, when India had her “tryst with destiny.” The twists and turns of this destiny form the springboard from which Salman Rushdie launches into his celebrated fantasia of our modernity. At once a fairy tale, a furious political satire, and a meditation on the ways in which time and change both shape and are shaped by the life of a single individual.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The luminaries / Catton, Eleanor
” It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to stake his claim in New Zealand’s booming gold rush. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: a wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous cache of gold has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Days without end : a novel / Barry, Sebastian
“Thomas McNulty, barely seventeen and having fled the Great Famine, signs up for the U.S. Army in the 1850s. With his brother in arms, John Cole, Thomas fights in the Indian Wars and, ultimately, the Civil War. Orphans of terrible hardships, the men find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they see and are complicit in.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


The trees : a novel / Everett, Percival
“After a series of brutal murders in a rural Mississippi town, investigators arrive and discover a large number of similar cases that all have roots in the past.When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive to investigate a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist White townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till. The detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution, but discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Death and the penguin / Kurkov, Andreĭ
“Aspiring writer Viktor Zolotaryov leads a down-and-out life in poverty-and-violence-wracked Kiev–he’s out of work and his only friend is a penguin, Misha, that he rescued when the local zoo started getting rid of animals. Even more nerve-wracking: a local mobster has taken a shine to Misha and wants to keep borrowing him for events. But Viktor thinks he’s finally caught a break when he lands a well-paying job at the Kiev newspaper writing “living obituaries” of local dignitaries–articles to be filed for use when the time comes. The only thing is, it seems the time always comes as soon as Viktor writes the article. Slowly understanding that his own life may be in jeopardy, Viktor also realizes that the only thing that might be keeping him alive is his penguin.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Rodham : a novel / Sittenfeld, Curtis
” Listening to her doubts about the prospective marriage, she endures a devastating break-up and leaves Arkansas. Over the next four decades, she blazes her own trail–one that unfolds in public as well as in private, that crosses paths again (and again) with Bill Clinton, that raises questions about the trade-offs all of us must make to build a life. Brilliantly weaving actual historical events into a riveting fictional tale, Sittenfeld delivers an uncannily astute story for our times. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Hot milk : a novel / Levy, Deborah
“I have been sleuthing my mother’s symptoms for as long as I can remember. If I see myself as an unwilling detective with a desire for justice, is her illness an unsolved crime? If so, who is the villain and who is the victim? Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant–their very last chance–in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The garden of evening mists : a novel / Tan, Twan Eng
“Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice “until the monsoon comes.” Then she can design a garden for herself…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The twelve / Cronin, Justin
“As a man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos, desperate to find others, to survive. Lila, a doctor and expectant mother, plans for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known as “Last Stand in Denver,” has fled his stronghold and is on the road, armed but alone. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little b? Other safely through a minefield of death and ruin. These three will learn that in connection lies hope..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The sportswriter / Ford, Richard
“As a sportswriter, Frank Bascombe makes his living studying people–men, mostly–who live entirely within themselves. This is a condition that Frank himself aspires to. But at thirty-eight, he suffers from incurable dreaminess, occasional pounding of the heart, and the not-too-distant losses of a career, a son, and a marriage. In the course of the Easter week in which Ford’s moving novel transpires, Bascombe will end up losing the remnants of his familiar life, though with his spirits soaring..” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

A gate at the stairs : a novel / Moore, Lorrie
“…As the United States begins gearing up for war in the Middle East, twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin, the Midwestern daughter of a gentleman hill farmer–his ‘Keltjin potatoes’ are justifiably famous–has come to a university town as a college student, her brain on fire with Chaucer, Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir. Between semesters, she takes a job as a part-time nanny. The family she works for seems both mysterious and glamorous to her, and although Tassie had once found children boring, she comes to care for, and to protect, their newly adopted little girl as her own…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
John Tomb’s head / Johnson, Stephanie
” John Tomb saw more of the world than most Englishmen of the early nineteenth century. From England to Australia to New Zealand, he led a life of adventure and romance. Two hundred years after his death, his tattooed head is discovered in an American museum. His spirit reawakened, John Tomb wryly observes those who would lay claim to his relic. Among others, there’s the New Zealand delegation headed by the Prime Minister and including Tomb’s Maori descendants, a leading historian, a prominent carver, the Diplomatic Protection Squad and the Prime Minister’s fifteen-year-old daughter. From England come Tomb’s English descendants and supporters, eager to take the head back to the land of his birth and their family museum. There is also a wealthy private collector and his clever wife.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Limestone / Farrell, Fiona
” Clare Lacey is on a quest. In Ireland to attend an art history conference, she sets out to find her father who walked out one day to buy a packet of cigarettes when she was a child, and disappeared. She is urged on her way by chance encounters- with a woman in a high tower, a blind man at a crossroads, a singer whose song she does not understand . . . Clues lie all around on a labyrinth of walls – but the final clue lies deep within. With Irish roots and a nod to the Irish classic, The Year of the Hiker by John B. Keane, this is a contemporary novel about inheritance, belief, art, love . . . and limestone.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Forrests / Perkins, Emily
“Dorothy Forrest is immersed in the sensory world around her; she lives in the flickering moment. From the age of seven, when her odd, disenfranchised family moves from New York City to the wide skies of Auckland, to the very end of her life, this is her great gift and possible misfortune. Through the wilderness of a commune, to falling in love, to early marriage and motherhood, from the glorious anguish of parenting to the loss of everything worked for and the unexpected return of love, Dorothy is swept along by time. Her family looms and recedes; revelations come to light; death changes everything, but somehow life remains as potent as it ever was, and the joy in just being won’t let her go. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“And now we welcome the new year” – Our picks of the novels of 2022

Highlights of 2022

And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.

Rainer Maria Rilke

The year has passed in a flurry of events and unbelievably it has already got to that point in time when we can take stock of the best fiction releases of 2022. To celebrate the rich variety and diversity of fiction releases this year we have created a list of 100 books that we think do a good job at representing the year 2022 in fiction.

Click the links above to view our choices! We’ve selected titles from across the fiction spectrum: from mysteries to science fiction, award-winners to best sellers and all points in between — books from our own shores and novels from around the world. This is very much our own selection and whilst we have included some of the year’s best-sellers and award-winning titles, we have also included novels that are very much our own choice. This list is definitely not intended to be exhaustive or completist, and we apologise in advance if we missed out any of your favourites!

Miracle, by Jennifer LaneWhat we have noticed over the course of the year is the continued growing trend of World class crime and mystery novels originating from our own fair shore’s books such as Miracle by Jennifer Lane, Blood Matters by Renée and In Her Blood by Nikki Crutchley.

This excellence and growth is spurred on we strongly suspect thanks to the fabulous Ngaio Marsh Awards which have proved such excellent nurturing  grounds for this genre over the years .

Akata Woman by Nnedi OkoraforThe trend for widening the range of international voices and giving readers a more diverse range of new world views has also continued this year.  We were especially pleased to see this evident in the publication of lots of afro-futurist books in the science fiction and fantasy world, with titles such as Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor, The World We Make by the fabulous N.K. Jemisin, as well as pop super star turned author Janelle Monáe’s collection of stories The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer all catching our attention. (We love the title of Janelle Monáe’s book too!)

How to loiter in a turf war, by Coco SolidThere have also been a few names who have burst onto the New Zealand fiction scene and made a huge splash this year — we’re thinking of authors such as Coco Solid with her vivid urban tale of modern New Zealand How to loiter in a turf war, Gina Cole’s science fiction spectacular Na Viro and Anthony Lapwood’s Home theatre. All three are relatively new authors on the New Zealand literature scene, and we’re excited to see more from them in the future!

And finally, it’s always nice to see well established writers in New Zealand and on the world scene creating masterful works for us to enjoy — such as Alan Garner’s Treacle Walker, Val McDermid’s 1989 and Vincent O’Sullivan’s Mary’s boy, Jean-Jacques : and other stories.

All in all, it’s been a fascinating and exciting year in the fiction world — now roll on 2023 and even more exciting new novels!

“Home is an Island”: interview with travel writer Neville Peat

Neville Peat is an award-winning New Zealand writer whose career has already spanned over 50 years. He has written many acclaimed works in that time covering the genres of geography, biography, history and the natural environment.

He was the recipient of the 2007 Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers’ Fellowship and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to conservation in 2018.

His books on Aotearoa New Zealand range from Antarctica to tropical Tokelau, and during this time he has visited many of the islands within New Zealand’s marine realms.

Home is an Island, his latest book, is all about these beloved islands and features eight islands and eight journeys that range throughout his illustrious career. The book is part adventure travel, part memoir, part history and part nature conservation.

The book is highly readable, atmospheric, evocative, insightful and beautiful; a work that is about Neville’s lifelong odyssey across the islands of New Zealand and celebrates their diversity.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Neville for taking the time to answer our questions and for providing such an illuminating insight into his world and work.

This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, the arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM.

Home Is An Island : A writer’s tribute to the islands of Aotearoa New Zealand / Peat, Neville
“This book is about these islands, including Stewart Island/Rakiura, Anchor Island in Tamatea/Dusky Sound, Kāpiti Island and Tiritiri Matangi in the Hauraki Gulf. Further afield, the book also covers Ross Island in Antarctica, Enderby Island in the subantarctic Auckland Islands, the Chatham Islands and the New Zealand dependency of Tokelau. Part memoir, part adventure travel, history and nature conservation, Home is an Island is a fascinating, insightful book.” (Adapted from catalogue).

The invading sea : coastal hazards and climate change in Aotearoa New Zealand / Peat, Neville
“New Zealand’s coastline is under attack. When cyclones and king tides coincide, there is double trouble at the sea’s edge with erosion and flooding .Award-winning author Neville Peat investigates the multiple faces of the greatest environmental issue to face New Zealand and other Pacific nations this century: the science of a warming, rising, stormier sea; the risky reality for many low-lying communities; the sluggish response of central and local government; the engineered solutions; and the curly question of insurance. He also addresses the vital question: what should be done and who should pay?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Stewart Island : Rakiura National Park / Peat, Neville
“Stewart Island is an increasingly popular holiday destination for eco-tourism and outdoor recreation, with many bush walks and a wealth of natural features to enjoy. Neville Peat introduces the attractions of the island – what to see and do, its walks and tramps, its national park, wildlife, history and magnificent scenery.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Wanaka : lake, mountain, adventure / Peat, Neville
“Neville Peat describes the scenic splendour of Wanaka and the myriad activities and attractions for visitors in this updated edition of a book that serves as both a guide to one of New Zealand’s tourism hotspots, and as a souvenir. The book covers the history of the Wanaka area and its progress into a contemporary centre renowned for an exciting range of outdoor activities and regular events, including the internationally recognized Warbirds Over Wanaka air show. Further material offers a guide to local walking and cycling tracks, local flora and fauna, and Mt Aspiring National Park.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The falcon and the lark : a New Zealand high country journal / Peat, Neville
“Part memoir, part natural history, a journey through Central Otago and encounters with New Zealand’s magnificent native falcon. He uncovers all; that is curious and distinctive there, in a rich blend of autobiography folklore and natural history. Woven throughout the narrative is an intimate portrait of New Zealand’s native falcon, karearea, ‘the wildest thing in our skies’. Neville Peat is one of New Zealand’s finest writers, and in this delightful book combines his skill as an essayist and natural historian and his instincts and breadth of knowledge as a conservationist.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

High country lark : an invitation to paradise / Peat, Neville
“An unusual summons from an old, itinerant acquaintance – known as the Lark – piques author Neville Peat’s curiosity. The invitation to meet in the mountains around Glenorchy is timely: he’s keen to head into the high country to investigate recent reports of sightings of the near-extinct kokako. The South Island high country has an allure all its own. New Zealand’s equivalent of the Wild West, it’s a rustic, spectacularly beautiful frontier, combining wild alpine beauty, beech forest and mirror-still lakes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Queenstown : New Zealand’s adventure capital / Peat, Neville
“Founded on gold, sustained on scenery, developed on adrenalin …Queenstown is unlike anywhere else in New Zealand. It is the countrys tourismmecca, with lots of good reasons: mountains, rivers, lakes, climate, snow sports,tramping, fishing, bungy jumping, whitewater-rafting the list goes on and on.Neville Peat provides a guide to the region, with descriptions of its highlights.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

VERB Readers and Writers Festival, 2-6 Nov

The wonderful Verb Readers and Writers Festival is one of the highlights of the literary year, and this year’s incarnation  will very shortly be upon us! Verb Festival runs from 2-6 November this year — check out the programme at the link below:

Verb Readers and Writers Festival

This year’s festival is a rich and diverse celebration of the very best in Aotearoa New Zealand’s literature and beyond, and we thought we would take this opportunity to highlight just a few  of the upcoming events that that particularly excited us, so here goes!

First up on Friday 4 November, Verb have a  day of literary legends, including:

Jenny Pattrick, Coco Solid, Hinemoa Elder
Jenny Patrick, Coco Solid and Hinemoa Elder. Author Photo Credits: (C) Deanna Walker and Todd Karehana.

This is an unmissable chance to take a day out of the ordinary and explore in person the thoughts and ideas of some of Aotearoa’s greatest thinkers and imaginations.

Verb November 4 – Full details

Find out more about festival passes here.

On Saturday 5 November, there’s the opportunity to hear Gina Cole talk about ‘cartographies of the future’:

Gina Cole – Cartographies of the future

Na Viro is a fabulous new speculative fiction novel from Gina Cole and it is brilliant! It is her second novel and is strongly recommended for anyone interested in first nations writing, sci-fi, spec fic, and intergalactic travel! Catch her in action before she becomes a superstar.

On Sunday 6 November, our pick is Christine Leunens talking on ‘Fact and Fiction’:

Christine Leunenes – Fact and Fiction

We recently interviewed Christine Leunens about her 2022 novel In Amber’s Wake – find our interview below. Already optioned as a major Hollywood film, this new novel is a gripping tale set in 1980s Auckland.

Previously Christine wrote Caging Skies, which became Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit. You can catch up with the author in person at this upcoming Verb event.

And of course, let’s not forget the two fabulous festivals within the festival (below) – just rock up and make a donation at the door for any of the events in these festivals within the festival:

We’ll see you there!

Books by Verb authors:

Catching the current / Pattrick, Jenny
“On the run from an unfortunate ‘indiscretion’, young Conrad Rasmussen finds refuge in the North Island of New Zealand under the employ of the famous (or notorious) Dane, Bishop Monrad. However Conrad – a talented and impetuous Faroeman, known in Jenny Pattrick’s Denniston novels as Con the Brake – finds he cannot escape his past. This is Conrad’s story, and that of the unusual woman Anahuia. It is a tale of new lands and old songs, of seafaring and war and the search for love. It is also the story of the Faroe Islands and of Denmark’s early connection with New Zealand.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

Wawata – Moon Dreaming: Daily wisdom guided by Hina, the Maori moon / Elder, Hinemoa
“Dr Hinemoa Elder, author of Aroha, New Zealand’s top-selling non-fiction title of 2021, shows us how to reclaim intimacy with others, with ourselves, and with our planet using the energies of Hina, the Maori moon.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

All this by chance / O’Sullivan, Vincent
“Esther’s grandparents first meet at a church dance in London in 1947. Stephen, a shy young kiwi, has left to practise pharmacy on the other side of the world. Eva has grown up English, with no memory of the Jewish family who sent their little girl to safety. When the couple emigrate, the peace they seek in New Zealand cannot overcome the past they have left behind. Following the lives of Eva, her daughter Lisa and her granddaughter Esther.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

How to loiter in a turf war : a novel / Coco Solid
” From one of Aotearoa’s fiercest and most versatile artists comes a day in the life of three friends beefing with their own city. There is the gorgeous Q (Tongan, Fijian with a dash of Indian and Solomon ); Rosina (Hawaiian, Rarotongan, Samoan, Irish), then there’s Te Hoia (Maori and Filipino). A cranky political science student and our narrator, she identifies with the toffee waves being churned in the (constantly-broken) ice-cream machine. Together, they navigate the stuffy busses, streets and markets of Tamaki Makaurau at the height of summer. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Gaylene’s Take : A Woman’s Life in New Zealand Film / Preston, Gaylene
“From one of our very best filmmakers comes a memoir of filmmaking in Aotearoa New Zealand.” ( Adapted from publishers )

Na Viro / Cole, Gina
“Appearing before the head of the Academy for fighting at her graduation ceremony, puffer ship navigator Tia Grom-Eddy must either join the crew of a spaceship on a deep space mission or complete a lengthy probationary period on Earth. Mortally afraid of travelling into deep space, Tia chooses probation. Estranged from her parents, Tia is bereft when her sister, Leilani, joins the crew of a puffer fish spaceship sent to investigate a whirlpool in deep space. And when the cosmic whirlpool sucks Leilani’s shuttle into its grip, Tia must overcome her fear of space travel and find a way to work with her mother, who is leading the rescue, or risk losing her sister forever.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

In Amber’s wake / Leunens, Christine
“Set in New Zealand during the fast-changing, tumultuous 1980s era of the anti-nuclear movement, Springbok rugby tour protests, and the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, this romantic drama is as unpredictable as it is powerful and heartfelt. Ethan Grieg, a film student, is in love with his close friend Amber Deering, an environmental activist, who lives at her family’s seemingly picture-perfect stud farm. Amber loves Ethan dearly, but not in the way that Ethan longs for. Instead, the man Amber chooses is widower Stuart Reeds, a charming, refined British investor almost two generations older than her. As a Korean war veteran, Stuart is mentally prepared for the long, subtle war that begins between his young rival and himself for Amber’s heart. When secrets become exposed and nothing is as it seems, each will be cornered into committing acts they could have never predicted. This powerful, gripping story leaves in its wake lingering themes on the complex nature of love, social fabric, international politics, and fundamental notions of right and wrong.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

This Friday! Author Talk & Book Launch: Renée, Jennifer Lane & Anne Harré

Nefarious Novels at Newtown

A rare opportunity to hear three of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most outstanding  crime writers: Renée, Jennifer Lane and Anne Harré in conversation with Louise Dowdell, and help us launch Renée’s new book Blood Matters.

6.30pm Friday 18 November
at Newtown Library

Secure your spot for free on Eventbrite

We have a very special (and FREE!) event in store for fans of all Aotearoa fiction, and especially for fans of mystery and crime fiction.

We will be launching two stunning crime novels from our own fair shores; featuring the multi-award winning authors Renée (Ngāti Kahungunu) and Jennifer Lane, who will be talking about their new books Blood Matters and Miracle, respectively, as well as debut crime-writing sensation Anne Harré, whose novel The Leaning Man was released last year to huge critical acclaim.

Registration is not required, but highly suggested. This is likely to be a well attended event and we may need to turn people away if Newtown Library reaches full capacity. Secure your spot for free here via Eventbrite.

Author Photo Credit: (C) Doug Lilly.

Iconic New Zealand author Renée was born in 1929 in Napier and has so far written over twenty highly acclaimed plays — many of them works that humanise and centre working-class people and feature women in leading roles. She has also published (so far) ten fiction works including The Wild Card, which was shortlisted for the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards. Her latest work  is Blood Matters.

The novel’s central character Puti is a runner, but she  doesn’t feel safe anymore – especially when she discovers her grandfather has been murdered with a Judas mask on his face and another biblical mask has gone missing. She’s also the guardian of ten-year-old Bella Rose, who wants to be a private investigator when she grows up. Puti and Bella Rose try to solve the murders and find out who took the mask.

Jennifer Lane’s debut novel, All Our Secrets, established her as an author to keep a close eye on; quickly gaining rave reviews, the book went on to win the much-coveted Best First Novel Award at the Ngaio Marsh Awards in 2018. Find more info on Jennifer Lane here. Her second novel Miracle has just been released.

The novel, set in small-town Australia, centres around events at a crematorium. The book’s central teenage character “Miracle” is a fabulous creation; funny and totally believable and who also has a colourful family  in tow. A compelling and enjoyable crime mystery read that will be enjoyed by both young adults and adults alike.

Author Photo Credit: Jane Harris.

Anne Harré’s debut novel The Leaning Man is a gripping, suspenseful page-turning thrill ride of a book (you are very likely to stay up very late to see what happens next). It is set in our very own windy Wellington and in some respects is a love letter to the city with its perfectly visualised, vivid, and evocative descriptions of the capital. And to top it all, one of the locations in the book is our very own Te Awe Library, with accompanying fictional librarian. The book gathered glowing reviews from the likes of  The Listener and The Dominion Post, as well as RNZ.

Renée, Jennifer Lane and Anne Harré will be interviewed by our very own Louise Dowdell. This is a rare opportunity to hear three of the best crime writers in the country talk about their latest crime novels and their work. This is an opportunity not to be missed by anyone interested in New Zealand literature.

We wish to extend our most heartfelt thanks to authors Renée, Jennifer Lane, Anne Harré and Cuba Press for making this very special and totally unmissable event happen .


Blood Matters / Renée
“Puti loves to run, but she  doesn’t feel safe anymore – especially when she discovers her grandfather has been murdered with a Judas mask on his face  and another mask has gone missing. She’s also  the guardian of ten-year-old Bella Rose, who wants to be a private investigator when she grows up.  Puti and Bella Rose try to solve the murders and who took the mask.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)


Miracle / Lane, Jennifer
“Born in the middle of Australia’s biggest-ever earthquake, Miracle is fourteen when her world crumbles. Thanks to her dad’s new job at Compassionate Cremations — which falls under suspicion for Boorunga’s spate of sudden deaths — the entire town turns against their family. She fears for her agoraphobic mother, and for her angelic, quake-damaged brother, Julian. When Oli plays a cruel trick on Miracle, he sets off a chain of devastating events. Then her dad is arrested for a brutal attack. How can she convince the town of her dad’s innocence?” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

The leaning man / Harré, Anne
“Wellington. The land dips and rolls, the wind has a life of its own. It’s Saturday night down on the wharf. Celebrations are in full swing for the Westons’ fortieth wedding anniversary. Their daughter Stella has returned from London to attend. She’s now a private investigator in London, reduced to filming errant husbands for court cases. She doesn’t want to be home. Later that night her best friend Teri is found dead in a lane in the central city. Her phone is missing. It looks like suicide, but Stella won’t believe it. The race is on between those who want the phone, the homeless man who’s pocketed it, and Stella.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty – who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home – has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered – her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too. As Ruby goes deeper into the mystery of Betty’s death she starts to find answers to questions about herself that she hadn’t dared ask before.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

All our secrets / Lane, Jennifer
“A girl called Gracie. A small town called Coongahoola with the dark Bagooli River running through it. The River Children – born in the aftermath of the infamous River Picnic. They begin to go missing, one after another. Gracie Barrett is the naively savvy spokesperson for her chaotic family, for the kids who are taken, for the lurking fear that locks down the town and puts everyone under suspicion. Coongahoola is where hope and fear collide, where tender adolescence is confronted by death, where kindness is a glimmer of light  in the dark.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

These two hands / Renée
“Renee Paule lives in Otaki and teaches her Your Life, Your Story and her Poem a Week workshops there. This is just one version of her life, her story, told in patches, like a quilt.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)



Wednesday to come : trilogy / Renée
“‘Wednesday to come’ (a play for 6 women and 2 men) shows the effect of the Great Depression on four generations of women from the same family. In ‘Pass it on’ (a play for 3 women and 3 men) the teenager Jeannie from ‘Wednesday to come’ is now a young woman in her 30s dealing with the 1951 Waterfront Lockout. The final play in the trilogy goes back in time to life in Victorian Dunedin: ‘Jeannie once’ (a play for 6 women and 3 men) looks at this world through the eyes of Jeannie’s great-grandmother, Granna in ‘Wednesday to come’.” (Adapted from Catalogue)